Open Data Policy for the City of Greater Sudbury

Citizens, organizations and businesses want municipalities to have open data because they can benefit from the information and add value to it. The City of Greater Sudbury is committed to transparency and accountability, and recognizes that society and the economy can benefit from open data.

Open Data is one of the four pillars of the City of Greater Sudbury’s Open Government Model, which was adopted by Council in March 2015. The City will release data for public use on a proactive basis and will also encourage a local government culture where data is open by default.

This Open Data Policy was prepared with input from staff in the City Clerk’s Office, Legal Services and Open Data Coordinators from other Canadian municipalities.

Open data is an evolving global trend, which indicates that reviews to the Open Data Policy could be required. The Open Data Policy and Open Data Licence v. 1.0 will be regularly reviewed by staff for currency and any recommended changes will be brought to Council.


The purpose of this Policy is to create a framework for making City data public as open data, in support of Open Government.

Policy Statement

The City of Greater Sudbury will:

  • embody a culture of “open by default” when considering data sets for release as open data;
  • maintain an Open Data Portal online with a listing of all of the open data available and links to download each dataset;
  • proactively make data routinely available to the public on the Open Data Portal while respecting the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c. 3, Sched. A and other rights and legal considerations relating to the data;
  • include metadata for each dataset with information such as how the data was collected, when the data was last updated and the expected update frequency of that dataset;
  • prioritize requests for open data from citizens in accordance with City of Greater Sudbury policies and priorities, and based on the readiness and suitability of the datasets for public release;
  • engage in electronic dialogue with the community regarding data needs and requests;
  • maintain an Open Data Licence and other contextual information on the Open Data Portal; and
  • promote the availability of the Open Data Portal.

Application & Scope

This policy applies to all City of Greater Sudbury departments and to data within the custody and control of the City.

The City of Greater Sudbury is required to comply with the law regarding the disclosure of private, confidential or proprietary data including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56 and the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c.3, Sched. A. The City may also have contractual or other obligations, all of which may limit the data which can be published on the Open Data Portal.

The City will not publish information which would contravene any of these obligations, but may modify a dataset to remove private, confidential or proprietary data when the City considers publication of the dataset to be in the public interest. An Open Data Team comprised of City staff will provide guidance on the implementation of this Policy.

Guiding Principles

The City of Greater Sudbury has established the following guiding principles based on Canada’s Open Data Principles, industry best practices and recommendations from the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for open government globally. These guiding principles will be considered by the City of Greater Sudbury when determining what data should be made available to the public and how it should be made available:

  • Complete: Datasets will be provided in their entirety, unless legal or other concerns restrict the release of certain information.
  • Primacy: Data will be provided as it was collected at the source, not in aggregate or modified forms.
  • Timely: Whenever feasible, datasets will be made available in time to preserve the value of the data.
  • Accessible: Datasets will be easy to obtain and with as few access barriers as possible.
  • Machine-readable: Datasets will be provided in machine-readable formats and in structures that allow automated processing in order to maximize potential access or re-use of the data.
  • Non-discriminatory: Datasets will be available to anyone and at any time.
  • Non-proprietary: Datasets will be available in formats over which no entity has exclusive control, to avoid unnecessary restrictions over who can use the data and how it can be used.
  • Open licence: An open licence will be provided with few limits on the use of the data.
  • Long term preservation: Datasets will be available at a stable location indefinitely and in a format which will be stable for as long as possible.
  • Free: Datasets will be provided free of charge.
  • Respectful: Datasets will respect community sensibilities and the privacy of individuals whose information is reflected in the City’s datasets.

Glossary of Terms

“Data” is individual facts, statistics or information.

“Dataset” is a collection of data stored in a machine-readable format.

“Machine-readable” is a format which can be understood by a computer or other device and used for automated processing, such as Microsoft Excel files.

“Open Data” is data which is available for anyone to download and use at no cost.

“Open by Default” means that all government data should be publicly available, unless there are privacy, security or legal reasons not to release the data.

“Open Data Portal” is a single point of access available online where all of the open data can be accessed.

“Metadata” is information about the data, such as title or date of collection.